I grabbed my briefcase and stepped out of my apartment building onto the quiet street. But something felt different this morning. The thick white fog had returned and swallowed everything near and far. Somewhere in the nearby woodland, atop an aged magnolia perhaps, a chorus of sparrows chirped briskly and worked up a Stravinskian dissonance. Tiny hibiscus buds, ever the bellwether of hope, adorned a stretch of wild shrubs drunk with morning dew. From a distance, roosters crowed in eager successions, evoking images of the rustic Cantonese village where my parents grew up. Suddenly, a taxi emerged from the bend and interrupted the tranquility. I resisted the intruder’s offer and continued my saunter as the muttering vehicle sailed away. Solitude restored, I slowed my pace with deliberation and gazed down the distant valleys where the southerly wind labored to disperse the fog. Plumes of smoke rose from the mountain ridge before quietly dissolving into the storm-pregnant sky, foreshadowing an afternoon drizzle.
In a prolonged breath, I inhaled the heavy, humid air and the smell was unmistakable: spring had arrived.